1) The Japanese government plans to lower the age of adulthood under the Civil Code from 20 to 18 by submitting a reform bill to the Diet possibly next year, government sources said Thursday.
The planned amendment would change the entitlements of an adult under the law for the first time since it was enacted in the late 19th century, enabling 18- and 19-year-olds to sign contracts and get married without the consent of their parents and other statutory agents.
2) An approach to seek the initial return of two of four disputed islands which are administered by Russia but claimed by Japan has re-emerged in the Japanese government to advance talks over the decades-old territorial row, bilateral diplomatic sources said Thursday.
The move comes on the eve of planned talks between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a two-day economic forum through Saturday in the Russian Far East port city of Vladivostok.
3) Japan’s defense ministry requested a record budget on Wednesday, with funds for an anti-ship missile system to defend islands at the center of a territorial dispute with China.
Tokyo is determined to defend the uninhabited islets in the East China Sea—administered by Japan as the Senkakus but claimed by China as the Diaoyus—as Beijing steps up its claim.
4) About 1,600 people are stranded and 17 are unaccounted for in the northeastern prefecture of Iwate Thursday after Typhoon Lionrock battered the area Tuesday.
Local authorities said that some 1,600 people in eight municipalities are stranded. The municipalities include the town of Iwaizumi, where nine bodies were found in a nursing home, with town officials saying they have lost contact with 17 residents, mostly elderly people.
Authorities are unable to approach the affected areas by road due to flooding and damage, they said, adding that members of the Self-Defense Forces and police are trying to assess the situation and mount a rescue operation, according to the prefectural government.
5) A health ministry panel unveiled a report Wednesday calling for a 100% ban on smoking in indoor public spaces including restaurants.
In the report, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare warned that passive smoking definitely increases the risk of lung cancer.
The move comes as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has expressed eagerness to combat passive smoking in Japan ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and Paralympics.
6) FamilyMart Co Ltd and UNY Group Holdings Co Ltd merged on Thursday, creating Japan’s second-largest convenience store chain.
FamilyMart, Japan’s No. 3 convenience store chain, and UNY, the owner of fourth-ranked Circle K Sunkus, agreed last October on a merger which will see around 6,250 Circle K Sunkus stores renamed as FamilyMart, Sankei Shimbun reported.
The merged company, called FamilyMart Uny, will operate about 17,000 convenience stores in Japan. 7-Eleven Japan is the industry leader with 18,572 stores. Lawson is third with 12,995 stores in Japan.
7) Japanese household spending fell less than expected in July and the jobless rate hit a two-decade low, offering some hope for policy makers battling to pull the world’s third-largest economy out of stagnation, data by the Internal Affairs Ministry showed on Tuesday.
8) When Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his new cabinet in August, it was again a primarily male affair. At a time when Abe has been discussing the empowerment of women, just three of the 19 ministers are female.
For Japan to gain a bigger voice in politics, boardrooms and other areas of society, women are going to have to do a lot of the work. In human resources, women from Japan and overseas are beginning to assert themselves in the business world, bringing new and innovative ideas to corporate Japan.